Cold weather and shorter daylight hours are no excuse to bail on your walking/running outside. In this article, I share strategies to help you stick to your training plan through the winter. Why sacrifice your fun and fitness when you don't have to?
- How long are you working out? Most people can deal with the cold for a 30-60 minute run if you plan ahead. There are a few of us crazy enough that we will run for several hours in the cold. This requires more practice and more planning, yet it can be done!
- How cold is it?
- Is it windy? Wind strips heat from the body very quickly, so it's important to plan ahead.
- Is the sun shining?
- What kind of terrain are you on? Running on hilly terrain generates more heat. Running on flat, open roads makes it tougher to stay warm.
- We all have different metabolic systems and lean body mass, both of which contribute to how much heat you generate during exercise.
- How much "natural insulation" a.k.a. body fat, are you carrying around with you?
This month marks my one-year anniversary (UPDATE: NOV 2009 MARKS MY TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY) of getting back to running as my primary vehicle for aerobic conditioning. Over the past year, 100% of my runs have taken place outside. I've gone running in the rain, in 90+ degree weather, and I've gone running when it's dark and drizzling ice. The only weather related condition that has caused me to postpone an outdoor run was on two occasions when there was ice on the ground. And this year, I've come up with a plan to work around that. I've purchased a set of the "YakTrax® Pro".
A couple things to watch when seeking out your shell include getting a jacket that is well ventilated. Ventilation is crucial. Look for back panels that vent and, ideally, either "pit zips" which are zippers under each arm which you can open and close to allow heat to escape, or at a minimum ensure there are vents in the arm pit area of the jacket.
"What about 'my other half'"?
The important thing is to be smart and avoid wearing shorts on really cold days. Below temperatures in the mid-30's, exposed legs will cause you to lose heat too quickly, making it difficult to remain warm. Plus, it is crucial to keep you joints warm otherwise you become more prone to injury to your knees and hips. Research actually supports that running in shorts in cold weather diminishes overall performance. So, don't try to be a tough guy/gal. Cover up for Pete's sakes!
Give cold weather the finger.
Practice, Practice, Practice...